Tip-off or send-up? That is the question a federal court has to answer now that Trahan, Burden & Charles is being sued by New Line Cinema for its use of a character reminiscent of Austin Powers, Mike Myers' psychedelic, cinematic anti-hero, in its recent ad for a drugstore chain.
Filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the New Line suit claims that TBC of Baltimore and local client Neighborcare Pharmacies use the "defining idiosyncrasies" of the Powers character, including horn-rimmed glasses and an ostentatious, 1960s wardrobe. The plaintiff wants the ad off the air and is seeking unspecified damages.
"We think this is ridiculous and we're going to fight it vigorously," said Allan Charles, creative director at TBC. Los Angeles-based New Line did not return calls.
In the spot, the character and his entourage are looking for makeup, hairspray and other products, but the client only sells drugs.
TBC has hired D.C.'s most formidable intellectual property firm, Arnold & Porter, to fight the suit. --Nora FitzGerald